Mathers shines for St. Vincent women's basketball team
In the classroom, St. Vincent College's Taylor Mathers earned her bachelor's degree last year in early childhood education and is pursuing a master's degree in education.
On the basketball court, the 6-foot-2-inch graduate forward again is excelling for the Bearcats' perennial power women's basketball team.
A native of Uniontown and graduate of Laurel Highlands High School, Mathers has already twice received President's Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors as well as being named to the D3Hoops National Team of the Week.
During a five-day stretch and three victories from Dec. 29 through Jan. 3, Mathers averaged 21 points and seven rebounds. She converted 27-of-46 field goal attempts to shoot 58.6 percent from the floor and shot 81.8 percent (9-11) from the free throw line.
Through 15 games, Mathers leads all PAC players in field goal percentage (.610) and ranks second in scoring (19.1), third in blocks (1.3) and fifth in rebounding (8.3). She also has 14 steals and 20 blocks and 21 assists.
Last season, Mathers earned first-team, all-conference honors after averaging a team-high 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds per game with 57 blocks. She produced five “double-doubles” in points and rebounds, including a 26-point, 15-rebound effort in a victory over Allegheny College. She set a single-game school record with nine blocks in an 82-70 road win at Westminster College.
St. Vincent finished the 2013-14 season with a 19-10 overall record and 14-4 conference mark. Playing without Mathers, the Bearcats were defeated in the semifinals of both the PAC and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Division III tournaments. She was injured during the Bearcats' 64-39 home victory over Grove City College in the PAC quarterfinals.
In 2012-13, Mathers appeared in all 26 games with no starts. Despite averaging only 13 minutes per game she was third on the team in scoring at 7.1 points per game. She also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game and made 28 blocks. The Bearcats finished 20-7 overall and 15-3 in the PAC.
At Laurel Highlands High School, Mathers was a three-time All-County basketball selection who also played volleyball.
Aided by Mathers' strong inside play, the Bearcats are the PAC's top scoring team, averaging 85.7 points per game.
Under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Jimmy Petruska, St. Vincent is 13-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Petruska was also an assistant coach under the late Kristen Zawacki. She began the program in 1983-84 and won 512 games in her 27-year tenure before her untimely passing on Christmas Day 2010.
Petruska, who became the program's first-ever full-time assistant coach in July 2007 after serving as a graduate assistant coach the previous year, understandably praised his star post-player.
“Taylor is a great person and her leadership skills for our team is tremendous,” Petruska said.
One of Petruska's assistant coaches is former Bearcat standout point guard Ashley Campbell, who is from nearby Donora and a graduate of Ringgold High School. She started 52 games in her career, including all 24 her senior season. In 2008-09, Campbell averaged 8.4 points per game and had a career-best 97 steals and 123 assists.
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.